Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends Study reveals that insurance leaders are betting on digitally enabled growth to move them through 2021. To accomplish this, employers are rethinking how to design for agility and align talent to meet shifting customer preferences.

Focus on futures

The momentum to transition to a more digital and data-driven business model is unstoppable. Insurers are already embracing usage-based insurance (UBI) products, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning, and automated customer service apps. To adapt to the changing nature of business, insurance companies are focusing on:

Defining future workforce needs/restructuring

Defining future workforce needs/restructuring

Energizing the employee experience

Energizing the employee experience

Upskilling and reskilling

Upskilling and reskilling

Reinventing flexibility and fluid careers

Reinventing flexibility and fluid careers

As a result, the top priority for HR organizations in 2021 is accelerating programs and policies that enable employees to adapt to new ways of working. We already see HR teams making changes to policies (such as flexible working — 83%), processes (such as onboarding — 75%) and people practices (such as managing a virtual workforce — 69%).


Race to reskill

Insurance companies are 1.5x more likely than other industries to focus on developing skills related to innovation and adapting existing products.

Insurers are looking to drive digital innovation and enhance the user experience to meet evolving customer needs — creating a foundation for one-click coverage purchases, accelerated claims payments and improved risk prevention. To accomplish these goals, insurers must find ways to attract and retain in-demand digital talent.

According to Mercer’s Innovation-Driven Tech Workplaces research, organizational agility and capability-building are differentiators for digital talent. So what are insurers doing to create a more fluid workforce and accelerate skill development?


have implemented or plan to implement loaning or sharing of talent internally


have increased or plan to increase the use of variable/contingent talent pools


have identified or plan to identify new skills and capabilities for post-COVID operations


have intensified or plan to intensify the development of remote working skills

Companies that unlock reskilling/upskilling at speed and scale will transform at a pace that leaves their competitors behind.


Sense with science

With AI and big data now permeating business, embracing data science and understanding how it changes decision-making is essential for HR. In response to the pandemic, insurers relied on data to make informed business decisions by:

  • Monitoring the impact of leader communication during the pandemic
  • Assessing the impact of cost containment on employee engagement
  • Revising access to employee data and developing ethical data collection guidelines

Additionally, leading insurers plan to improve analytics related to strategic workforce planning, skill acquisition, employee performance and pay equity.

By taking a forward-looking, data-driven approach, insurance companies can address risks in a thoughtful, cost-effective way — not simply reacting to events but working to control them.


Energize the experience

Virtual working is here to stay, and companies are enhancing flexible working policies and practices (91%), increasing alignment between structures and culture (88%), and making it easier to loan or share talent internally (81%).

As work environments evolve globally, new pressures emerge, and employers must evolve how they energize employee well-being. Specifically, insurers are:

  • Introducing unified mental and emotional well-being strategies
  • Adding benefits to address mental and emotional health issues
  • Increasing access to remote health and benefits options
  • Re-segmenting the workforce and tailoring benefits to new needs and realities

Pressure on employers to accelerate environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives is also increasing. Insurance companies are now:

  • 1.2x more likely to embed ESG metrics into executive scorecards
  • 1.4x more likely to ensure all executives have shared obligations for ESG metrics
  • 1.2x more likely to tie ESG goals to the company’s purpose

What does all this mean for the insurance industry?

  • Continued investments in digital capabilities and talent will separate industry leaders from their peers.
  • The most successful companies will create an evolved value proposition that appeals to an increasingly diverse, digitally native workforce.
  • Prominent organizations are using advanced analytics and technology (AI, machine learning, etc.) to evolve their customer and employee experiences.
  • Employers are embracing ESG and DEI efforts as part of the value proposition to improve social responsibility, pay equity, representation and more.
Ross Baker
Ross Baker
Senior Partner, Global Financial Services & Insurance Vertical Leader & Global Client Manager